You will call the DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES• The DHS Child Abuse Hotline number is 1.800.522.3511 OR• Your local county Department of Human Services Office
Do I have to know there is abuseand/or neglect before I call theDepartment of Human Services?
NO. All of us as mandatedreporters are required toreport any SUSPICION ofabuse and/or neglect.Good faith reporters whoattempt to “find out more”before reporting, can riskthe clarity andaccurateness of the formalinvestigation. Interviewsof children must be left tothe trained DHSinvestigators.
What if my boss (principal,counselor, lead teacher) tells menot to report a suspicion of child abuse and/or neglect to theDepartment of Human Services?
• No employer may tell employees not to report a suspicion of child abuse or neglect.• Failure to report suspected abuse is a crime. No person, regardless of relationship to a child or family, is exempt from reporting suspected abuse.• Reporting child abuse is an individual responsibility.
Can I just tell my principal or school counselor and let them make the report to theDepartment of Human Services?
•NO, you must call.•DHS professionalsneed to talk to theperson who suspectschild abuse orneglect, or whowitnessed or was toldabout the abuse orneglect.
Will my report to the Department of Human Services regarding suspicion of child abuse or neglect be confidential?
Department of Human Services Policy and State Law:• Require strict maintenance of the confidentiality of reporters of child abuse.• If the incident does become court involved, information on the reporter could be requested by the court.• It is rare, however, for the identify of the reporter to be made known in court• Anonymous reports are also accepted.
What is my responsibilityregarding confidentiality of the report made on one of my students?
As professionals who care about children and families, we must• Honor the confidentiality of a family by talking only to our supervisor about any report of child abuse or neglect that is made.• Reporting to the authorities is mandated, practicing confidentiality is also required.
What if I make a report and I am wrong? Can I be sued?
A person reporting in good faith is immune from both civil and criminal liability.
What if I’m worried somethingworse will happen to the child if there is a report made?
Any concernabout increaseddanger to thechild due toreporting shouldbe stated clearlywhen the reportis being made.
What if the Department ofHuman Services doesn’t identify abuse and/or neglect, and I’mstill concerned about the child’s safety?
Ongoing concerns for a childfollowing a DHS Child Welfare report.• Document the report, and know what you, as the reporter, have a right to know.• Continue to observe the situation and note any further suspicions of child abuse/neglect.• Make another report with this additional information.• If you continue to be dissatisfied with the responses from Child Welfare, provide feedback through the supervision structure of DHS, i.e., the Child Welfare supervisor for the county.
A report of suspected childabuse/neglect is made from our school. Is the school responsible fornotifying the parents of the child?
No. State law specifiesthat schools are notresponsible fornotifying parents thata child wasinterviewed at theschool regarding achild abuse report.The task for notifyingparents is theresponsibility of theDepartment ofHuman Services.
What Are Special Reporting Issues Related to SchoolsSchool personnel, as well as medical, public health, mental health professionals, or any other professional person interacting with children should NOT delve into a child’s situation beyond determining whether there is a REASON TO BELIEVE the child is being abused or neglected, or is in danger of being abused or neglected.Educators’ can identify the suspicion of abuse or neglect and report to DHS.
A special note about thegrownups (parents, grandparents, guardians) who may be the perpetrators of child abuse/neglect:
These Grownups Most Often Love Their Children Very Much, and They . . . • Respond better to support than to hostile criticism. • Are often challenged by isolation, finances, stability, multi-stressors, and histories of being victims themselves. • Are often intimidated by teachers and schools.
So, as caring professional educators, the challenge is:2. To be a part of the community raising and teaching children,4. To be clear about reporting suspicion of child abuse and neglect,6. To apply more compassion than criticism toward the complex issues for families where child abuse and neglect occur.
Contact Fran Roberson at the Center for Children and Families, Inc. for further questions or concerns. firstname.lastname@example.org 405.364.1420